Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself. (Henry Ward Beecher)
I have a small sign in my office that was given to me some years ago. It was given as a way of reminding me of my importance as a leader in healthcare. I was actually being honored by my peers when I received it, but it has been with me ever since because it reminds me of a very important fact - we lead by example. The sign simply says, "Every time we walk by the violation of a standard, we set a new standard." I believe this is a derivation of what Lieutenant General David Morrison said when he is quoted as saying, "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." There are times we 'set new standards' because our behavior doesn't match the past standard we had come to follow, aren't there? When we drift from a standard, what is one of the most common things we do? Don't we attempt to cover it up by making an excuse for that violation of the standard? Rarely do we find ourselves acknowledging our variation in standard as a path we should not have taken in the first place. Whenever we do acknowledge that 'wrong path', we aren't setting a new standard, we are finally sharing that we aren't willing to accept excuses for our wrong behavior.
If you excuse yourself, saying, “Look, we didn’t know anything about this,” doesn’t God, who knows what you are really thinking, understand your motives? Isn’t your Protector aware of why you aren’t protecting the innocent? Will He not repay you in kind? (Proverbs 24:12)
Behavior is somewhat based upon the situation - at least that is what we'd like to tell ourselves. If we can 'blame' the circumstances for our behavior, we don't have to shoulder the blame ourselves. The problem with this type of action on our part is that there will always be some 'circumstance' that we can blame! We will never shoulder the blame, or make the right course corrections - we will never be observed adjusting our behavior 'back to standard' if we are always shifting the blame. The standard is declared in the Word of God - it was modeled in his Son's life while on earth - and it can be seen in the lives of others who adhere to these standards themselves. We are not without positive examples of how to behave - we just might turn a blind eye to those standards! Our true heartfelt motives are often revealed in the worst of times. I'd have to say that things are kind of tough right now for our nation. We are having to adjust to business and school closures, a lack of income for some who are forced to 'not work' during the shutdown, and even a lack of supply for others as the demands seem to be escalating all around us. How we face these 'circumstances' right now might just reveal a little bit of our underlying motives.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can oftentimes find the places where we have allowed a new standard to be set in our lives. Stop for just a moment to consider the last action you took in terms of what you said or did for or toward another individual. Was it honorable? Was it done from a right motivation? Did it build up? Did it meet a need? If we perhaps snatched up the last bag of dried beans or package of toilet paper off the shelf when we already have a stockpile at home, we might have to acknowledge the action was neither honorable or with the right motive. If we then took those beans and toilet paper to a shut-in senior who cannot find a way to the grocer right now, we might say those actions built up and provided for a real need for that senior. Our actions speak very clearly of our motivation - they also reveal the standard by which we live. Just sayin!